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Social Media and Social Computing. Chapter 1. Traditional Media. Broadcast Media: One-to-Many. Communication Media: One-to-One. Social Media: Many-to-Many. Characteristics of Social Media. “Consumers” become “Producers” Rich User Interaction User-Generated Contents

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Social media and social computing

Social Media and Social Computing

Chapter 1

Chapter 1, Community Detection and Mining in Social Media.  Lei Tang and Huan Liu, Morgan & Claypool, September, 2010. 

Traditional media
Traditional Media

Broadcast Media: One-to-Many

Communication Media: One-to-One

Social media many to many
Social Media: Many-to-Many

Characteristics of social media
Characteristics of Social Media

  • “Consumers” become “Producers”

  • Rich User Interaction

  • User-Generated Contents

  • Collaborative environment

  • Collective Wisdom

  • Long Tail

Broadcast Media

Filter, then Publish

Social Media

Publish, then Filter

Top 20 websites at usa
Top 20 Websites at USA

40% of websites are social media sites

Networks and representation
Networks and Representation

Social Network: A social structure made of nodes (individuals or organizations) and edges that connect nodes in various relationships like friendship, kinship etc.

  • Graph Representation

  • Matrix Representation

Basic concepts
Basic Concepts

  • A: the adjacency matrix

  • V: the set of nodes

  • E: the set of edges

  • vi: a node vi

  • e(vi, vj): an edge between node vi and vj

  • Ni: the neighborhood of node vi

  • di: the degree of node vi

  • geodesic: a shortest path between two nodes

    • geodesic distance

Properties of large scale networks
Properties of Large-Scale Networks

  • Networks in social media are typically huge, involving millions of actors and connections.

  • Large-scale networks in real world demonstrate similar patterns

    • Scale-free distributions

    • Small-world effect

    • Strong Community Structure

Scale free distributions
Scale-free Distributions

  • Degree distribution in large-scale networks often follows a power law.

  • A.k.a. long tail distribution, scale-free distribution

Log log plot
log-log plot

  • Power law distribution becomes a straight line if plot in a log-log scale

Friendship Network in Flickr

Friendship Network in YouTube

Small world effect
Small-World Effect

  • “Six Degrees of Separation”

  • A famous experiment conducted by Travers and Milgram (1969)

    • Subjects were asked to send a chain letter to his acquaintance in order to reach a target person

    • The average path length is around 5.5

  • Verified on a planetary-scale IM network of 180 million users (Leskovec and Horvitz 2008)

    • The average path length is 6.6


  • Measures used to calibrate the small world effect

    • Diameter: the longest shortest path in a network

    • Average shortest path length

  • The shortest path between two nodes is called geodesic.

  • The number of hops in the geodesic is the geodesic distance.

  • The geodesic distance between node 1 and node 9 is 4.

  • The diameter of the network is 5, corresponding to the geodesic distance between nodes 2 and 9.

Community structure
Community Structure

  • Community: People in a group interact with each other more frequently than those outside the group

  • Friends of a friend are likely to be friends as well

  • Measured by clustering coefficient:

    • density of connections among one’s friends

Clustering coefficient
Clustering Coefficient

  • d6=4, N6= {4, 5, 7,8}

  • k6=4 as e(4,5), e(5,7), e(5,8), e(7,8)

  • C6 = 4/(4*3/2) = 2/3

  • Average clustering coefficient

    C = (C1 + C2 + … + Cn)/n

  • C = 0.61 for the left network

  • In a random graph, the expected coefficient is 14/(9*8/2) = 0.19.


  • Scalability

    • Social networks are often in a scale of millions of nodes and connections

    • Traditional Network Analysis often deals with at most hundreds of subjects

  • Heterogeneity

    • Various types of entities and interactions are involved

  • Evolution

    • Timeliness is emphasized in social media

  • Collective Intelligence

    • How to utilize wisdom of crowds in forms of tags, wikis, reviews

  • Evaluation

    • Lack of ground truth, and complete information due to privacy

Social computing tasks
Social Computing Tasks

  • Social Computing: a young and vibrant field

  • Many new challenges

  • Tasks

    • Network Modeling

    • Centrality Analysis and Influence Modeling

    • Community Detection

    • Classification and Recommendation

    • Privacy, Spam and Security

Network modeling
Network Modeling

  • Large Networks demonstrate statistical patterns:

    • Small-world effect (e.g., 6 degrees of separation)

    • Power-law distribution (a.k.a. scale-free distribution)

    • Community structure (high clustering coefficient)

  • Model the network dynamics

    • Find a mechanism such that the statistical patterns observed in large-scale networks can be reproduced.

    • Examples: random graph, preferential attachment process, Watts and Strogatz model

  • Used for simulation to understand network properties

    • Thomas Shelling’s famous simulation: What could cause the segregation of white and black people

    • Network robustness under attack

Comparing network models
Comparing Network Models

observations over various

real-word large-scale networks

outcome of a

network model

(Figures borrowed from “Emergence of Scaling in Random Networks”)

Centrality analysis and influence modeling
Centrality Analysis and Influence Modeling

  • Centrality Analysis:

    • Identify the most important actors or edges

    • Various criteria

  • Influence modeling:

    • How is information diffused?

    • How does one influence each other?

  • Related Problems

    • Viral marketing: word-of-mouth effect

    • Influence maximization

Community detection
Community Detection

  • A community is a set of nodes between which the interactions are (relatively) frequent

    • A.k.a., group, cluster, cohesive subgroups, modules

  • Applications: Recommendation based communities, Network Compression, Visualization of a huge network

  • New lines of research in social media

    • Community Detection in Heterogeneous Networks

    • Community Evolution in Dynamic Networks

    • Scalable Community Detection in Large-Scale Networks

Classification and recommendation
Classification and Recommendation

  • Common in social media applications

    • Tag suggestion, Friend/Group Recommendation, Targeting

Link prediction

Network-Based Classification

Privacy spam and security
Privacy, Spam and Security

  • Privacy is a big concern in social media

    • Facebook, Google buzz often appear in debates about privacy

    • NetFlix Prize Sequel cancelled due to privacy concern

    • Simple annoymization does not necessarily protect privacy

  • Spam blog (splog), spam comments, Fake identity, etc., all requires new techniques

  • As private information is involved, a secure and trustable system is critical

  • Need to achieve a balance between sharing and privacy

Social media and social computing

Book Available at

Morgan & claypool Publishers


If you have any comments,please feel free to contact:

  • Lei Tang, Yahoo! Labs,

  • Huan Liu, ASU